In the last post, we discussed the Legal and Financial Considerations that go into your deployment plan. In this post we will go into more detail about handling your employees and ensuring your business is secure prior to your deployment.
Steps to hand over your business to someone else take time and it is imperative that all aspects of your plan are in place, so you can begin implementing as soon as you find out about your deployment.
Employees are a critical part of your deployment plan when you plan on sustaining your business. To ensure your employees are prepared, a special employee deployment manual can become an important part of your overall deployment plan.
While you should already have a written employee manual, it is particularly critical that each employee is given a copy before you deploy. A good employee manual will reinforce how to perform certain functions and procedures, clarify the tasks for which each employee is responsible, and spell out your policies and procedures. Your employee manual should include these topics:
- Compliance with employment laws
- Drug policy
- Employment policies
- Disciplinary actions
- Employee hiring and new employee orientation
- Family and medical leave act
- Paid time off
- Unpaid time off
- Pay and payroll matters
- Performance appraisals and salary adjustments
- Resignations and terminations
- Anti-harassment policy
- Workplace rules and guidelines
- Workplace safety
You should also have a "deployment manual," that will go into effect when you deploy. It does not need to duplicate your regular employee manual, but it should include any changes that will go into effect when you are gone. For example, if you are the President/CEO, it should be noted that where the employee manual refers to the President/CEO, the person you appoint will act on the President’s behalf. As with everything, be sure to check with your attorney or legal advisor to ensure that both your employee manual and your deployment manual are in full compliance with state and federal laws.
Issues that should be addressed in your deployment manual include:
- Job descriptions: If you distribute responsibilities to staff members, it is important to outline additional tasks in the manual.
- Position rotation: If you plan on changing positions, rotating responsibilities, or altering the reporting structure within your business, make sure it is included in your deployment manual.
- Pay, performance bonuses, etc.: If your employees will be taking on a large number of additional responsibilities, you may choose to increase their pay or implement performance bonuses. These policies should be clearly outlined in your manual and should be consistently implemented across the board.
- Performance reports: Your deployment manual should clearly explain how performance evaluations and reports will be handled in your absence, including who will perform the evaluations, how the reports will be submitted to you, and what performance bonuses will be based on.
- Confidentiality: Things that should not be included in your deployment manual include anything that is not for all employees to see. This includes items that are confidential, such as codes to security alarms, procedures for processing payroll, information about employees, contact information for key stakeholders in the business, or anything else that could possibly be used incorrectly by someone from your staff.
Once your employees have received and reviewed the deployment manual, it is important that they use and comply with the manual. Here are a few exercises to help ensure compliance:
- Conduct task-oriented training (rather than inundating them with the full contents of the manual at once).
- Ensure your employees can perform the tasks assigned to them; if not, find another solution.
- Conduct actual run-throughs of your entire deployment plan. It may take a few days, but you will be able to see how your employees fare and what problems or questions arise that you can address before you really do deploy.
Even if your business will remain open while you are deployed, take the proper safety steps to keep your business and yourself protected. Here are some practical security measures you can take:
- Powers of attorney: Protect yourself and your corporation by not giving anyone too much power. Assign powers of attorney carefully and only when necessary. Don’t sign the power over until you absolutely need it, and don’t provide more power than the situation call for (e.g., assigning a general power of attorney when a limited power of attorney will suffice).
- Checks and balances: Protect your business by instituting simple checks and balances. Split up major responsibilities. For example, by giving one person the keys to the business to open up in the morning and another person the keys to the cash register to start business for the day.
- Security: If your business is not open every day, consider a security alarm. It can give you peace of mind to know that your business is protected when it is closed. You can also alert the local police that you will be deployed but your business will remain open in your absence.
- Communication: If possible, stay on top of your business to protect yourself from any surprises. Try to speak weekly with the person filling your shoes to get updates. Be careful to avoid focusing just on the negative, when there is nothing you can do to change things. If you have access to Internet while you are deployed, a remote access program can allow you to log on to your work computer from anywhere in the world to review financials, calendars, email and more.
Steps to ensure your business continues to run smoothly while deployed take time, and it is imperative that all aspects of your plan are in place. If you currently don’t have an employee manual and a deployment plan you should take the time to at least create a draft. Then, if you do get orders to deploy, you can quickly make any changes and begin implementing immediately.
For those that intend to suspend rather than sustain, a plan is just as important. In our next post we will begin covering the steps you need to consider to suspend your business while you are deployed.
The Veterans Corporation (2007)